The Islamic State’s Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyah (West Africa Province), formerly known as Boko Haram, has officially claimed last month’s suicide attacks in Chad’s capital of N’Djamena. The attacks killed at least 23 people and left more than 100 wounded.
“The brother Abu Hamza al Ansari and the brother Abu Saadiq al Ansari set out to implement two suicide operations with suicide vests on the police academy and police center in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena,” the Islamic State said in a statement. The claim of responsibility goes on to say that the operation “led to the destruction of dozens of the murtadeen [apostates] and wounded more than 100.” In addition to the short statement, the jihadist group also released photos of the suicide bombers taken before carrying out the attacks.
In a separate message, the Islamic State claimed that a suicide bomber, identified as Abu Omar al Ansari, detonated in a safe house for suicide bombers in Chad after security forces raided the building.
In response to the attacks, Chad has launched airstrikes against the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) in Chad and has banned face veils worn by Muslim women in the country.
The ISWA has struck in Chad before. Back in February, the jihadist group attacked a village, killing the local police chief and wounding four people. Many residents also reported that the jihadists burned down two-thirds of the village. That attack was seen as a response to Chad’s involvement with Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger in combating the ISWA in northeastern Nigeria. Chadian troops play an integral role in the coalition.
The claim of responsibility for the N’Djamena bombings comes as the jihadist organization continues to launch attacks in Nigeria and other neighboring countries. Just yesterday, 25 people were killed in the central Nigerian city of Zaria after suicide bombers targeted a governmental building. Additionally, a girl thought to be just 12 years old was used as a suicide bomber in Wagir in Yobe state, killing 10 people and wounded dozens more in a city market.
It is thought that more than 200 people, mainly civilians, were killed in other attacks by the ISWA last week. A double suicide attack in the city of Jos killed at least 48 people, while an attack on mosques in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 97 people, many of them children, as they were praying. The latter incident fits with the Islamic State’s modus operandi of targeting those Muslims they deem as “unbelievers.” While the mosques that were attacked in Nigeria were Sunni, the Islamic State has also targeted Shiite mosques in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and in Yemen.
Today, at least 13 people have been killed in an attack in Cameroon. Voice of America reported that the attack on the village of Bordo lasted for around five hours and that three jihadists were also killed in the assault. Additionally, 26 civilians were killed in a suspected ISWA attack in Chad in the Lake Chad region.
While a regional force has been deployed to help Nigeria combat the ISWA, the jihadist group retains the ability to both operate and coordinate attacks in northeastern Nigeria. The Nigerian military, alongside regional forces from Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, has been able to recapture several towns and villages that were held by the ISWA; however, the group still maintains control over a large portion of its territory in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states. [See LWJ report, Boko Haram rolls with the punches, remains a threat.]
Boko Haram officially pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, back in March. The jihadist group started referring to itself as an official “province” of the Islamic State in April.
Photos of the suicide bombers released by the Islamic State:
Abu Hamza al Ansari:
Abu Saadiq al Ansari: